The Humanitarian Encyclopedia

Enhancing Humanitarian Practice

Through greater knowledge and understanding

The humanitarian sector faces one particular challenge among others: although practitioners and scholars acknowledge that humanitarians share a common set of principles, values and concepts, the definition and uses of such terms is by no means consensual. Resilience ”, “Humanity”, “Protection”: these central concepts in humanitarian action refer to a range of meanings and associated practices, depending on the geographical, organizational, but also disciplinary background of the people using them.

Hence, in an expanding and ever more diverse sector, understanding each other in humanitarian contexts has become particularly important. The Humanitarian Encyclopedia intends to collectively interrogate how humanitarian concepts are used across time, geographical contexts, organizational cultures, disciplinary backgrounds and professions. 

After an intensive preparatory phase, the project develops over a 5-year project period from July 2017 to June 2022, bringing together a growing community. All results will be shared and discussed on an interactive online repository of knowledge. Make the Humanitarian Encyclopedia yours :  join a growing community!



Recent News

“Unravelling humanitarian concepts – From divergent meanings to a common understanding?”

Prof Doris Schopper was invited to deliver the keynote speech “Unravelling humanitarian concepts – From divergent meanings to a common understanding?”  at the inaugural meeting of the Research Network on Humanitarian Efforts, a joint initiative of three Norwegian research institutions,…

Clara Egger – Humanitarian Encyclopedia research lead – and two members of HE governance bodies signing articles in Humanitarian Alternatives review!

The ninth issue of Humanitarian Alternatives bilingual review was launched in November under the thematic “1968-2018 Breakdown and continuity”. The editorial is signed by Clara Egger, Humanitarian Encyclopedia research lead. Then, in the forum space, François Grünewald, member of the…

The Humanitarian Encyclopedia third governance meeting took place in Geneva from 19th to 21st November 2018

Both the Advisory Board and Scientific Committee gathered this week in Geneva to take stocks on past months project evolutions. We had enriching discussions and debates, alternating plenary session with workshops sessions. Tuesday morning session was dedicated to a joint…

Public conference « 1968 – 2018 : Humanitarian concepts across time and spaces » November 20th, campus Biotech 18h30 – 21h

Fifty years after the Biafra war, which set the stage for the “without borders” movement, humanitarian aid has become a resolutely strategic sector, both in terms of action and of image, encompassing an increasing number of players with ever more…

Happy to be on board

In recent years, CERAH has become an internationally recognized educational platform. The Humanitarian Encyclopedia Project marks a new milestone, as an ambitious research project elaborated under the auspices of CERAH. We thank the Swiss Development and Cooperation agency (SDC) as well as the Advisory Board and members of the Scientific Committee for their support to this project, and wish you every success. In this context, we at the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies intend not only to maintain our support to CERAH. We also plan to enhance that support through greater involvement of our professors in CERAH’s teaching and research activities.

Prof Y. Fluckiger, Rector, University of Geneva & Prof P. Burrin, Director, IHEID

ALNAP research has consistently found a high degree of terminology inconsistency for key humanitarian concepts. This can often result in a lack of clarity at both a theoretical and practical level. An initiative aimed at finding a shared understanding for these concepts has the potential to make collective action more effective and bring about changes and improvements in humanitarian action.

John Mitchell, ALNAP Director

With greater localisation of humanitarian action, ADRRN sees immense value in the Encyclopedia project. We see it as a bridge-building as well as a learning tool for dialogue and joint action with the increasing number and variety of actors.

Manu GUPTA, Chairperson, Asian Disaster Reduction & Response Network (ADRRN)